Brief Movie Synopsis

Based on the trailer I saw, there’s a movie out with the premise, “A hydrogen bomb didn’t kill this thing, so we’re sending in a badass dude with a machine gun.”


Another Reason Mexican Television is Awesome

I’m in a local cantina and on the TV there’s some sort of quiz show happening. When the contestants get the answer wrong they get a pie in the face. When they get it right, they get a generous shot of tequila.

“Tequila!” the teammates of the most recent correct answer shouted in unison. Good times.


Steroids in Entertainment

There’s been a lot of talk in the last few years about the use of performance-enhancing drugs, and steroids in particular, in sports. But while two of the major sports in the US get most of the attention, what is carefully NOT said is that steroids permeate the entertainment industry.

This entire episode is really an aside for a thought I was developing a while back: Superman does ‘roids. As steroid abuse became prevalent in sports, we the couch potatoes began to form an entirely different idea of what ‘ripped’ was, and the bodies of superheroes naturally had to live up to that ideal. Our heroes, even the fictitious ones from other planets, have been sporting ever-more-sculpted bodies, keeping up with Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno and all the other ‘roided-up bodybuilders of the ’70’s.

Today, while sports-related PED use gets all the press, other branches of the entertainment industry are desperately clinging to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The entertainment press has no interest in exposing steroid use among actors; infidelity and coke are mainstays of scandal but let’s not talk about how Actor X got so buff for his last movie. Scandal sells, but only the sort of scandal that perpetuates the Hollywood Myth. In a land of smoke and mirrors, only the smoke and mirrors are sacred.

That’s not to say that the sports franchises have come clean.

This is where the picture of Elmer Fudd sitting on a powder keg, fuse almost burned away, with his fingers in his ears and his eyes shut tight would be if it were legal for me to put an image like that here, and/or if my searches for such an image had borne fruit.

Take the NBA, for example. The leadership of the league will tell you that steroids are not a problem in their league. This isn’t based on any sort of science, or on a rigorous testing policy (testing in the NBA is a joke), but rather on the assertion that steroids don’t enhance the type of activities that basketball players do.

Um… say what?

Let’s imagine for a moment that we could jump in a time machine and go back to the ’80’s, and have a chat with one of the greatest basketball players ever to have donned a pair of sneakers. We know Michael Jordan is motivated by winning and pretty much nothing else. So let’s imagine what his answer would be if we told him, “there’s a chemical you can take that will allow you to jump a tiny bit higher, last a little longer on the court, and to recover more quickly from the inevitable sprains and bruises that are part of your game. It’s not exactly within the rules of the game, but you definitely won’t get caught.”

Michael Jordan had that choice. Knowing how driven he is to win, which choice would surprise you more, that he did or did not use steroids?

What a potential nightmare for the NBA.

I have to assume that the use of PED’s is also rampant in hockey. Since an individual star has the least impact in hockey compared to the bigger three sports, the does-he-or-doesn’t-he discussions are less common. A hockey player could juice up until he turned into a minotaur and commenters would say “that line has had some great shifts lately.” Over 82 games the performance boost would be measurable, but wouldn’t stand out so flagrantly. So I think it’s safe to assume that ‘roids are in use, even though no one talks about it.

Then there’s the sport-like entertainment product brought to us by the WWE, called, euphemistically, “wrestling”. You want to see what max-boost steroid use will do to a human? Look no further. Image is what they sell. Back in the day some of the biggest names in the ring were also big tubs of goo. Strong men, and passable actors, but hardly ripped. Now, take a moment to look at the headliners for the next WWE event. Pretty crazy, right? Everyone knows these guys do steroids. As long as no one talks about it too loudly, all parties are allowed to let things continue this way.

So why are we OK with these guys using steroids, but not the athletes in ‘real’ sports? The generally agreed upon reason to ban these drugs is to protect the health of athletes. But is the health of a baseball player inherently more valuable than the health of a pro wrestler? If health were the real reason, then outrage would be consistent across the entertainment industry.

And, you know? I can get therapies for my sore knee that professional athletes can’t. Does that make sense?

If not health, then what is the reason? Is it fairness? I think mostly yes. As the system stands, people willing to break the rules have an advantage over those who behave ethically. Particularly in my favorite country, the United States, that rankles. It sure bothers me. So ‘real’ sports, where there’s actual competition, try with varying levels of success to catch the cheaters.

Unless you consider the NBA a real sport. (It’s borderline for me.) There’s really not much effort to enforce their drug policy. They do have random testing, sure, but they can only test a player four times each year. After the fourth test, a player is off to the races. Even before that, the tests are easy to beat.

Interestingly, this continued state of denial, of not doing anything meaningful to police the use of performance-enhancing drugs, puts the NBA in a position to bring about meaningful change. Were I king of that league, I’d pass the following edict: People pay to see the top performers in our sport. We will provide that product. To maintain fairness, we’ll allow all athletes in our league to take whatever PED’s are legal in this land, and we’ll even provide responsible medical supervision.

Bickety-bam, prohibition is over. And while there will still be cheaters who do unhealthy amounts of performance-enhancing drugs, the advantage they gain by doing so will be diminished. And when your favorite athlete comes back from an injury more quickly, everyone wins. Seriously, how can it be a bad thing when someone gets well more quickly? There are some big-name athletes with shadows over them because of ‘miraculous recoveries’. They must have cheated, right? What kind of messed-up system makes recovering from an injury too quickly a bad thing?

So let’s put on our Goggles of Reasonableness and question the assumptions behind the prohibition of performance-enhancing drugs in sports. And while we’re at it, lets recognize a simple truth: We want to watch enhanced performers.


A Worthy Subplot in a Cop Show

There are a lot of cop shows on TV these days. Also a bunch of lawyer shows, which are hard to tell from the cop shows. All about bringing bad guys to justice. In these shows, it would be terribly inconvenient if the suspect du jour asked for a lawyer rather than confessing. It would be even more inconvenient if the police had to follow rules of evidence or even get a warrant to search a place.

A pithy phrase that I didn’t make up but don’t know where I first heard it and now can only approximate: That legal technicality you’re complaining about is actually a civil right. These are rules to prevent cops from punching you in the face until you confess, to prevent cops from planting evidence or destroying evidence. These aren’t technicalities, they are what protect us from tyranny. Whenever they are discussed disparagingly, the speaker is undermining your freedom and mine. This is never as obvious as it is on cop shows.

So a great minor arc in some big, overblown cop drama would be the Evil Judge Who Doesn’t Give Boss Cop What He Wants. Boss Cop smacks a guy and ransacks his apartment, and Evil Judge reprimands Boss Cop and the guy walks! Holy crap where is justice!? Boss Cop asks for a warrant and doesn’t get one; Evil Judge is a hardass that way. Jesus how’s a cop supposed to do his job with all this law getting in the way?

Boss Cop still gets the bad guy; Boss Cop is a badass. It’s just more work. Boss Cop is always right, though.

So by episode six of the season Evil Judge is not well-liked by the viewing public. What’s his problem? Does he hate America? Is the mob paying him off?

Then… the twist that must happen in every cop drama. Boss Cop stands accused. It looks bad; evidence against him is coming out of nowhere! What the hell? That’s not real! End of episode nine: Facing damning evidence, Boss Cop walks into court and sees Evil Judge presiding (this is unrealistic, they would know the judge long before, but this is TV after all). His nemesis! Evil Judge knows how Boss Cop feels about him.

Next episode: Evil Judge turns his skeptical eye on the evidence presented by the prosecution. Shakes his head. Chucks out the case. “No substance,” he says, “Numerous violations of civil rights.” Or something only slightly more subtle.

The courtroom rises to a frenzy, but the noise fades as Boss Cop and Evil Judge exchange a look across the well. “Always remember,” Evil Judge communicates with a wise smile, “it could be you.”


It’s All in the Light

I was watching (without sound) some show that features a guy who may (or may not) be the the showbiz illusionist Chris Angel. The show was called something like “I’ll wear anything and fight anyone to get on TV.” Nothing to do with showbiz magic. Probably-Chris Angel’s job was to chat with the other host and interview stupid people. (I assume they were stupid; I suppose they may have been discussing quantum mechanics.)

What struck me as I watched this silent farce was the remarkable brightness in Angel’s eyes compared to everyone else’s. His eyes caught the light from the camera in a way no one else’s did. Was this intentional? I don’t know. But he focussed intently into the camera, and his dark eyes did the rest. The result was that he just looked… special compared to everyone else.


Keep the Shovel

The official sister of Muddled Ramblings has on occasion told me about a show called “Pimp My Ride.” In this show, photogenic people turn their old, crappy vehicles over to a bunch of talented and resourceful people who “pimp it out”, as the kids say. In this case “pimp” does not mean to use the car to promote prostitution, rather it means convert the vehicle into one a pimp might drive. This means it must have “bling”: conspicuous and profligate disregard for cost, a desire to attract attention at the sacrifice of taste. Money for money’s sake.

Today for the first time I saw (but did not hear) the show. It opened with many scenes of a frighteningly cute young woman driving an old, beat-up Land Cruiser. The vehicle had no doors. I *heart* explosives, a sticker on the front bumper proclaimed. On the left front fender a short-handled shovel was anchored. When you’re in deep sand, a thousand miles from home, a shovel can save your life. Various people in hip-hop attire were shown posing next to the sticker and the shovel. The seats had four-point harnesses and the speakers were in black-spraypainted wooden boxes rattling around in back.

The bubbly young lady was shooed away and the pimping began. In my head, I was imagining how I would trick out this particular ride. They gave the thing new paint (yellow!) and front ironwork with lights. Nice. That eliminated the bumper sticker that everyone had made such a big deal of, but I was sure that the ‘explosives’ motif would be honored some other way. I mean, shit. Explosives.

I was wrong. The pixie came back, jumped up and down with terrific excitement, and fawned over her transformed vehicle. My thought: where’s the shovel? Apparently all that time spent posing next to the shovel was to bury it, not praise it. These urban ride-pimpers had no respect for the rural, self-sufficient, working-man characteristics of the vehicle. What I thought had been a great chance to build up and enhance an iconic vehicle was just another makeover, like taking a great singer and cramming her into the conformity-box of American Idol. A wilderness hero goes Hollywood.

Apparently Little Miss Sunshine, whom, based on her vehicle, I had judged to be an independent desert rat, a rambler, in fact was just in the wrong car to start with. That, or she was good at pretending to be happy.

And you know what? Even in Hollywood, that shovel should have stayed. The businesslike seats should have stayed. The ride would have benefitted from a little bit of badass (big tires on shiny wheels are often mistaken for badass, as they were in this case, but you know the real thing when you see it). All the time the people spent posing next to the shovel is proof that it made an impression.

There were lots of cool things the ride-pimpers added to the vehicle, and I have to admit that if I’d not seen the original I would have just written the result off as another toy truck that some rich kid bought. Knowing its history, though, I know that truck could have been so much more.

Whatever you’re doing out there, make sure you keep the shovel. The shovel is where the soul is.


Really, Hollywood?

I’m catching the start of the American Football season, a game between two very good teams that I find myself interested in despite myself. Often on Thursdays I go to a bar to have a beer or two and watch sports and crank out a blog episode or three.

I’m at home this week, a change that may merit its own episode, or maybe not. I’ve got the game streaming to my computer in our office, commercials and all. Ain’t technology grand?

I just saw an ad for a movie coming out sometime soon. It looks like a very expensive version of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. On closer look, the movie looks like… an expensive version of Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots that you watch rather than play. Much of the allegedly gut-twisting action is watching machines damage each other in a boxing ring. Yippee.

Although they give the movie some name that does not include the words ‘rock’ or ‘sock’, I would be very disappointed if at no time does one robot punch another robot in his shiny metal chin and make its head pop off.

Well, except for the part where I won’t actually see the movie at all.


Darn that Science

I’m in a bar right now, trying to get the blog mojo working. On the TV I just saw a commercial that featured some sort of record-breaking car jump. I just couldn’t get excited.

Back in the ’70s the guys doing jumps just put a big motor in their cars, set up a ramp, and took a shot at the other side. Sure there were some estimates of how far they would fly if they were going a certain speed at the top of the ramp, but there was still a seat-of-the-pants feel to it. You started small, you jumped farther and farther, and learned to land on your wheels.

Now, I see a specially-modified car sail through the air and all I see is math. The driver has only to hit the ramp at the right speed and keep level and Bob’s your uncle. [This has always been the case, but ‘the right speed’ was not as exactly-known as it is now, nor was it so easy to hit that speed back in the day. I contend. And now that I think of it, some ramps back then might have doomed the driver no matter the speed.]

Daredeviling, like tennis, has suffered from the advance of technology.



Obvious in Retrospect

There’s a show coming out on ABC, the title of which escapes me even though I saw an ad for it less than a minute ago. Here was the pitch to the network executives: “It’s M*A*S*H, in Iraq, only patriotic.”

That phrase, right there, with maybe a dash of crime drama, would have got you a $50 million budget (if you could tell the right person). But you didn’t think of it. Alas, neither did I.


Movie Time!

Last week the Blockbuster Video store in out neighborhood closed forever. On the last day of operation my sweetie and I took a walk over to see what gems they had on their shelves that we couldn’t possibly live without. At three bucks a pop it seemed like a good chance to grab up a few good flicks.

The most exciting acquisition from my point of view is Black Sheep, a light horror film from New Zealand that features… yes, it’s New Zealand so it has to have… zombie sheep. I saw this flick at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival (The Cannes of the East!) with Fuego, at a midnight showing with a thousand other heavy drinkers. Fun was had by all. That disk is scratched up pretty badly and our DVD player is persnickety, so I won’t be able to inflict it on my sweetie until I burn a fresh copy.

Meanwhile, we’ve had some fun with some of the other movies. One night we watched Due Date with Iron Man and Zach Gallafanagashammalammadingdong, followed by Dinner for Schmucks with Steve Carrell and other people I’m told I’ve seen before. The two flicks are pretty much the same story (wacky interloper exposes then heals the vulnerabilities in the other guy’s relationship), but they’re told very differently and are both good date night options. Dinner for Schmucks I especially enjoyed, as Steve Carrell masters a moment of seeming contradiction and makes us believe it.

We also hauled in The Crazies (I think that was the title). Back in the day I’d seen previews for the film and I thought it looked promising. Still, those preview-makers are good at making shit look like caviar. Turns out in this case, while there were a fair number of WTF moments (Why aren’t they staying together?!) the film worked pretty well. The ending was… perfect.

That same night we watched a movie with John Travolta as a shaved-head kinda-wacko secret operative out to whack a bunch of bad guys in Paris. It’s a partner movie, and it’s the other character (played by what’s-his-name) who really grows. It was a fun movie, if you’re able to ignore: a) roughly 5,000 bullets are launched in the direction of the good guys, and only one hits flesh; and b) the writers had no clue at all about electronic countermeasures and routine security procedures. Near the beginning what’s-his-name does something that would be sure to cause a major international incident, but somehow it comes off as success.

So, the flick wasn’t perfect. It was still a fun ride. Audi might be the big winner here, as the car chase figured their logo prominently. My sweetie might have spoken their brand name out loud for the first time in several years.

We still have a big pile of movies to go, from that ridiculous movie with that chick in it to the one where all the people do intense stuff. I can’t wait!



There are nights when it would be smarter to go to bed or more productive to read, but TV appeals. On those nights, there’s no guarantee that anything good will be on. We tend toward Food Channel and Adult Swim, but there’s another category of programming we enjoy. Some shows were just made to mock.

CSI: Miami is a favorite in this category, between David Caruso chewing up the scenery and preposterometer levels in the danger zone, an episode of CSI: Miami is good for 44 minutes of snarky comments and laughter.

The other night as we were looking for an excuse to not be productive, my sweetie saw Star Trek: The Next Generation in the listing. “We can mock that!” she said with enthusiasm. Immediately I saw the potential and we selected that channel. We were not disappointed.

Take the scene in the bar with Whoopi Goldberg and the kid crew member. “Do you want some Blagaturian Tea?” Whoopi asked (or something like that). “How about some Hoobajoobian cocoa?” Just about every object on the show has a polysyllabic adjective to improve its exoticness. They settled on “Gogorotarian soufflé.” Or whatever. And even after the first time, does Whoopi take the easy way out and just say “soufflé”? No. Time after time she says, “Gogorotarian soufflé.”

You know what she’s really saying? “Space soufflé.” “You want some Space Tea? How about some Space Cocoa? No? Ok, I know you won’t say no to some Space Soufflé.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation becomes much more watchable if you simply replace all those silly adjectives with “space”.

This particular episode hinged on a Really Freakin’ Huge Coincidence. The Mysterious Visitor and the Deadly Cargo were incompatible, so the Mysterious Visitor left. That’s the whole story right there. No cleverness or ingenuity on the part of the crew of the Enterprise required at all. The thing is, it would have been easy to create a causal relationship between the the Mysterious Stranger being there at the same time as the Deadly Cargo. It would have been relatively simple to have one of the main characters actually accomplish something, rather than just watch events unfold.

Lazy writing.

Yep, there’s a new show on our WatchenMocken list.


CSI: Miami – Live blogging!

10:01 – Hip-hop! inner city. In eight hours a gun will be fired.
10:02 – Hoop-playing cops grab their guns and join a car chase on foot! Crime Scene Investigating cops, no less.
10:03 – Crime Scene Investigation is there for a routine stop in progress. Caruso in sunglasses! Happened to be in the neighborhood.
10:04 – Sunglasses off!
10:04 – Sunglasses back on! Oh, and a body in the trunk. Good thing DC was there.

During the credits, here, I’ll explain. We sometimes watch CSI: Miami. I enjoy mocking it, my sweetie enjoys mocking it and watching David Caruso. Tonight, with my sweetie as my spotter, I will bring you a blow-by-blow of tonight’s gripping episode.

It might be necessary to come up with some shorthand. DCSoff means David Caruso sunglasses off, DCSon means, obviously, on.

10:05 – according to Crestor’s animators, arterial plaque looks like bacon.

10:08 – DCoff tells the tech to document everything. Good advice, since that’s his job.
10:10 – first esophagus shot of the night!
10:11 – Matching humvees! Two people in two huge cars.
10:12 – Mrs. Olsen does not like the police. A suspect who insists on due process? On this show? Must be a fluke.
10:14 – Kicking the fuckin’ door open to take fiberglass samples!
10:15 – Crime scene investigators pawing everything! Even the bad guys’ gloves! (Thought that might give one of them an idea.) Touch each item once and throw it back down. Standard procedure.
10:16 – Talk about timing. The meth lab explodes!

Another commercial break as flames sweep over the heads of our really awful crime scene investigators.
10:18 – my sweetie drinks wine from the bottle for the first time!
I think we will need a shorthand for when DC takes his shades off on camera.

10:20 – house is trashed, so no one will know what bad investigators they were
10:20 – DCoff saves the day! Lifts the beam. Good thing he was in the neighborhood. Again. (Sweetie says they had already called him, so I guess the writers get a pass on this one.)
10:21 – DC without sunglasses – in the day, outdoors!
10:23 – I say Mrs. Olsen is running the meth lab!
10:24 – Hm. might be wrong already.
10:25 – Crime Scene Investigators go on a drug raid! ‘Cause, you know, that’s what they do.
10:26 – Time bombs! It’s a trap!!!!!! – Because they happen to know when the police will be there. Oooohh – elaborate triggered timers that couldn’t possibly go wrong.
10:27 – Nice shootin’ Tex!
10:28 – In the luxury interrogation suite – Crime Scene Investigators grilling a suspect! Because that’s what they do.
10:29 – DCoff emotes!
10:30 – Super-glamorous crime lab scene! Nice that the doc had a full-color printout handy.
10:31 – Second esophagus shot!

Going into the break without anything on fire.
Ah, Local news, how I love you.

10:36 – out of the break with slow motiong explosions, then a lab tech listening to music. Wait – wasn’t that lab tech canvassing a neighborhood earlier?
10:37 – Lab tech in denial after being in a blast. Side drama!
10:38 – “I heard you wanted evidence about the blast in the meth house.” No shit, Sherlock – THAT’S MY JOB!
10:38 – Sure, put the evidence in the clean room – AFTER I tear open the bag and take out the most important item.
10:38 – Back in the luxury crime scene offices.
10:41 – super slo-mo of the maid being beaten for reading her bible. No ambiguity of good and evil there!
10:42 – Crime Scene Investigators (and a helicopter!) going to make an arrest! Because that’s what they do. Oh, yeah, send the coroner, too.
10:43 – DCon->off! “That’s not the whole truth, my friend.”
10:43 – Montage! Work that pipette, baby!
10:44 – A machine beeps. We have an answer.
10:45 – DCoff takes us to commercial: “Natalia, Nothing is impossible.”

CSI: Miami – new night, same shades! (Those are the promo’s words, not mine.)

10:49 – DCoff teaching the forensics lab guys how to do forensics lab work!
10:50 – Suspect slow-motion pacing in the crime lab chicken-wire holding pen.
10:51 – Still pacing. Machines beep and whir.
10:52 – grisly crime reenactment.
10:53 – Full confession! Once again the CSI boys, in their secondary role as interrogators, find a suspect who does not ask for due process of law.
10:54 – Oh, snap!
10:55 – hearing trouble in the super-high-tech designer CSI lab. Flashbacks! Fire! Never mind you look like Lindsey Lohan’s big sister, it’s ok.
10:56 – People go to jail. No lawyers anywhere. The courts are implied, I suppose, but not really.
10:57 – DCoff understands. He’s going to get the illegal immigrant into school. Like this: “You’re going to school.” He puts his sunglasses on. Fade to black.

Switch channel: ANOTHER CSI: Miami! A modest boat ran into a highway bridge and brought it down! Concrete crumbling! A couple (girlfriend: bitchy) plunges into the drink! Whoever built the damn bridge is the one who should be going to jail in this one.

OK, so I’m not going to be giving a blow-by-blow on this one, although it’s starting out to be quite a bit more mockworthy than the previous. I will point out the most ridiculous elements, however.

11:06 – The witnesses say the boat was aiming at the bridge! Oh, wait, the pilot was dead. But seriously – who the hell built that bridge?
11:12 – DCoff knows the wheel base of every car without looking it up!
11:14 – database (that chirps) knows where all recent carp releases have occurred.
11:16 – chemically sensitive evidence goes into a manila envelope. DC’s sunglasses around his neck! What the hell does that signify? We’re going into uncharted waters, here.

11:18 – More wine! On a side note, got some wine cheap at Big Lots called Earth Wise. I have to say, those hippies can make a nice vino!

11:20 – “I’ll process this at CSI and see if I can get any prints.” Translation: “I’m off to do my job, then.”
11:21 – “Murder trumps the bridge”
11:22 – “It looks like over three million in jewelry. I’m going to need two more officers.” Because the warranty for each officer is only good for one mil in stones.
11:24 – a totally needless montage about making diamonds.
11:25 – a laboratory emerald is apparently not as hard as a natural emerald. Huh.
11:25 – “I happen to have the appraisal of the gems sitting here on this table…”

A moment here, during this break after we watched a named character die, to reflect on what makes CSI: Miami so fun to mock. Now is the time because despite the inherent ballsiness of killing a named character, the humor comes from the fundamental laziness of the scripts. Let’s face it, a crime scene investigator was in a place where no CSI wonk would have been in the first place. Caruso is doing a pretty good job of it, not getting too histrionic, but they’re going to make a deal of Speed not being prepared for the situation which is my point exactly.

11:38 – TV computers never cease to amuse me.
11:39 – Will she ask for a lawyer? Will she? Will she? No.
11:40 – she must be innocent; the soulful music started after she spoke.

Another break, more about writer laziness. Suspects confessing to lesser crimes to move the plot along would never, ever happen in real life, but once a week multiple suspects send themselves to prison to make the writer’s life easier.

11:47- “It only happens in Hell’s Bay” – luckily they had a nice graphic in the computer ready to go (with chirping sounds). As usual.

11:50 – DCoff(outdoors) wades into shark-infested water to save a boy in no danger, just to finish as the squad cars arrive. Sharks don’t fuck with David Caruso. And David Caruso can’t wait five friggin’ minutes for support to rescue a boy from sharks who’s not in the water. Another form of laziness, false drama. Unnecessary heroism concluded just as the people who would make the act simple arrive.

The show ended with a police funeral. It was moving, and well done, and I came away feeling, well, manipulated. More lazy writing, filling up the last five minutes of the show with something that couldn’t miss.

How much of this show is filler? Coifed science babes in dramatically-lit labs (with science!) doing science stuff. Sunglasses going on and off. Whats-his-name delivering the big lines. No cleverness. No risk. I came to mock David Caruso but I have to admit that with the material he’s been given he does a pretty good job.

And so we have our unintentional comedy. Lazy writers creating ridiculous situations and then lazily getting out of them by making humans act unnaturally. Then cover it up with slick editing and glitzy montages, and you have yourself a show. Still, good fun.


One Last Microsoft-Related Thought

While watching television a couple of nights ago, I saw an ad for the new Windows 7, code-named “all the stuff we wanted to put in Vista but ran out of time.” After the ad was over I turned to my sweetie and said, “I know there’s a joke about the significance of them using the theme for The A-Team in the ad, but I can’t think of it.”

After perhaps a second of reflection she said, “How about, ‘We get the job done but there might be a lot of explosions first.'”

I laughed, thought for a few seconds, and ventured, ‘There will be a lot of shooting, but no one will be hit.’

Obviously my sweetie is funnier than I am.


Talk Radio

The intro to this one might be as long as the episode itself, depending on how well-rested my rambling muscles are. Many years ago, I was listening to Rush Limbaugh, and he paused mid-rant to say (something like) “you realize, people, that this is entertainment.” While I’m sure he likes the idea of being politically influential, he’s not going to let any of that stand between him and ratings. His job is to sell advertising.

So then you get people like Al Franken (an entertainer) who are bogged down in “facts” and “process” and “fairness” and as a result will never put on a radio show that people will listen to. What they need is the Crazy Liberal Bomb-thrower caricature to host a show, and be just as nuts and just as ridiculously wrong as Limbaugh. Maybe the guy who did Borat would be a good choice.


The World’s Worst Writing

I’m not a big fan of television serials, as a general rule. There was a period of several years in which I never watched a single minute of sitcom. Not counting animated shows, anyway. Over the last few years the cartoons have been able to go where no live show dares. Which isn’t saying much.

As I write this I’m sitting in Pizzeria Roma, an old haunt of mine (the black hole by the oven is still working). They have a plasma TV now, showing network programming without sound. A crime drama just concluded, and it confirmed what I have come to suspect for a long time: There’s a lot of crap coming out of Los Angeles and New York, but the worst television in the world is made in Germany.

Maybe I should qualify the title a bit. This is about the world’s worst writing that people actually get paid for (regularly!). There’s plenty of truly awful writing published on the Web and in vanity press.

The Czechs have Ulice (rhymes with “street”), and old-school low-budget urban soap opera, and they have “Kriminalka: Anděl” (rhymes with “CSI: Prague neighborhood” – Anděl means angel which adds a nice nuance to the title). I am told that this show is actually pretty good if you’re into the whole CSI thing. It might just be national pride, but the locals tell me that the show makes up for a smaller budget with writing and acting. I know the one time I watched it without sound, I found it far less silly than the American franchise that inspired it.

Then there are the German shows. After a while they’re easy to spot. And when it comes to bad, they have taken sucking to a whole new level that American television can only dream of. I know that’s hard to believe, given the state of American TV, but the writing in the German shows is so bad it is a shining beacon of suck even with the sound turned off. (Worth noting here is that I’ve never seen a Chinese television serial. They might be worse.)

The other night I was laughing out loud at the action in a German detective drama featuring a dog. (There is another that features a helicopter, and so forth. In every case the show is constructed so we can say “yay dog!” or “yay helicopter!”) One of the many Toma